Effective Writing for Defence


Course Overview:

This two-day course introduces advanced techniques for writing arguments and explanations that are well-reasoned, well-supported, psychologically-compelling and strategically-aligned with an organisation’s mission and priorities. The course uses argument mapping, deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning as tools for planning to write in the argument structure.

Four main features of this approach are brevity, clarity, readability and persuasiveness. These planning techniques encourage brevity, not by ‘dumbing down’ but by focusing in on what is logically-necessary and strategically-important. They achieve clarity by providing a structure that helps readers to understand the writer’s intent. Above all, they enhance persuasiveness by combining logical and psychological approaches to persuasive communication. Readability is also improved by applying some cognitive research findings on how readers read.

Who Should Attend:

This course is extremely valuable for managers, professionals and administrators in organisations. It is also useful to anyone who is required to explain or persuade, in writing. The course has been designed for university graduates and for experienced non-graduates who are required to write at an equivalent level. No academic or technical knowledge is assumed but the course can be challenging, in places

Participants are encouraged to bring along a piece of their own work-related writing to analyse and improve. This can be anything from a major report to a workplace email.

Course Outline:

Planning: Argument Mapping
Deductive Reasoning: Deep Analysis of Logical Structure
Inductive Reasoning: Using Evidence Effectively
Strategic Alignment with Mission, Values & Priorities


Dissecting Counterarguments
Structuring a Document for Clarity
Writing for Readability
Beyond Reasoning: Some Rhetorical Techniques for Writers



Online, Canberra, Melbourne & Sydney



All states and neighbouring countries, contact the  for more information. Recommended for groups of 10 or more.


What you will receive:

  • Comprehensive set of course notes
  • UNSW Canberra certificate of attendance
  • Morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea (not available for online courses)



“James has a very well rounded approach and delivers information in an effective and easy to follow manner.” 20/05/2016.

“Great course…Great Examples.” 20/05/2016.

“Would definitely recommend this course to others. The examples used for mapping arguments were defence related and were excellent." 20/05/2016.

“Well delivered and great knowledge." 20/05/2016.

“The course was aimed at higher level staff but James’ style of education allowed me to fully understand the contents of the course and I came out feeling really confident.” 20/05/2016.


About the Presenter:


James Hanson

Dr James Hanson

Dr James Hanson teaches strategic management and organisational leadership at UNSW Canberra.  His research focuses on the use of structured analytical techniques to develop the decision making and strategic communication skills of people who work in large organisations.  In 2009, James, Vice Admiral (retired) David Shackleton and Emeritus Professor Peter Hall shared a national teaching award for their innovative work in developing students' strategic thinking skills.  James has an MBA in strategy and an MA in economics from Yale University, as well as an EdD in adult learning and cognition from the University of Sydney.  The Effective Writing course combines practical techniques and research insights from across James's broad academic background.  He has been delivering this very popular course to members of the Australian Defence and Intelligence communities, for over a decade. 

No dates? Or unable to attend dates shown? Submit an Expression of Interest below to be notified of upcoming courses.